Friday, November 22, 2013

10cc -- "Art for Art's Sake" (1976)

Art for art's sake
Money for God's sake

Jeff Koons lives at the intersection of Art Street and Money Avenue -- that's in Manhattan, by the way.

Earlier this month, his "Balloon Dog (Orange)" sold at a Christie's auction for $58.4 million, a record for a work by a living artist sold at auction:

About a year ago, Las Vegas hotel tycoon Steve Wynn bought Koons's "Tulips" for $33.6 million and installed it in the Wynn Hotel.  I stayed at the Wynn in Septemeber, and walked by that sculpture (which is made of stainless steel and weighs more than three tons) -- I had no idea what the price tag was:  

What do critics think of Koons?  According to Wikipedia, 

Critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons.  Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance.  Others dismiss his work as kitsch: crass and based on cynical self-merchandising.

I have nothing of any value to say about the merits of Koons's work.  (I didn't take an art history class in college -- which was a mistake -- and the bits and pieces of knowledge I've picked up over the years falls far short of allowing me to play art critic.)  Personally, I enjoy it -- it's a little silly, but it's cute and amusing.  What's not to like?

Is it art?  Yes, although I have no clue if it is great art (or if it will be considered great art in 100 years). 

Would I have paid $33.6 million for "Tulips"?  If I had Steve Wynn's bankroll, sure -- why not?  (Hot chicks would like it a lot more than some gloomy Rembrandt painting, right?)

Koons recently collaborated with a famous French manufacturer of Limoges china, Bernardaud, which produced a line of porcelain dinnerware based on his "Banality" sculpture series.  

You might not think a guy like Koons would be into fine china, but he has said that he "was always intrigued by porcelain, by both the economic and the sexual aspect of the material."  (Say what?)

I happened on Bernardaud's Park Avenue store while prowling the streets of midtown Manhattan on a brief trip there a couple of weeks ago.  I don't know about you, but when I see a display of dinner plates featuring the late Michael Jackson and his pet chimpanzee (Bubbles) in gold faux-military uniforms, I've just gotta stop and take a closer look:

Here's the original Koons sculpture:

Here's the plate based on that sculpture:

The "King of Pop"-and-his-monkey dinnerware is pretty pricey.  For one thing, the "Banality" series has six different designs, and to get one 16-cm Jackson bread-and-butter plates you have to buy a set containing all six designs -- which retails for $380.

If you want a single Jackson-and-Bubbles place setting -- a dinner plate, salad plate, bread-and-butter plate, and coffee cup and saucer -- you'll need to shell out a total of $2300.  (Plus tax and tip, of course.)

After telling the Bernardaud folks "Thanks, but no thanks," I crossed the street to do a little window-shopping at the Phillips gallery, which was about to hold an auction of contemporary art.

Once of the pieces that was most prominently displayed was "Laugh Now," a 2002 stencil painting by the wacky British artist known as Banksy, who started out as a graffiti artist.  It features a bunch of identical stenciled chimpanzees, some of which are wearing signboards that read "Laugh now, but one day we'll be in charge":

Here's a closeup of one of the Banksy chimps:

The presale estimate for "Laugh Now" was $300,000 to $400,00, but it eventually sold for $485,000.

I couldn't find any other chimp-related fine art works, so I went back to my hotel.

"Art for Art's Sake" was released on 10cc's 1976 album, How Dare You!, which was the last album featuring the group's original lineup.  I bought that album while I was in law school -- I had a real weakness for the arch, precious songs that 10cc, Sparks, and other bands of that ilk were putting out in the seventies.

The How Dare You! album jacket is pretty interesting.  Here's the front panel:

Here's the back panel:  

Here's the gatefold:

I'm not sure who sings the bridge of "Art for Art's Sake":

Money talks, so listen to it
Money talks to me
Anyone can understand it
Money can't be beat, oh no!

Maybe Jeff Koons?

Here's "Art for Art's Sake":

Click below to order the song from Amazon:

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